Suns set to shine

THE first State League game for the Camera House Coffs Harbour men's Suns team will be on Sunday 10 April against the Port Macquarie Dolphins.

Debbie Harwick profiles the players and the coaching staff.

Phil Atkinson stands tall and has every reason to.

Apart from his own height of 201 centimetres, as coach of the 2004 State League men's team, they beat all odds to compete in the 2004 State Basketball League finals series.

That effort by coach and team, brought more great accolades to the Suns outstanding season as Shannon Rowe was awarded the prestigious most valuable player of the year award (MVP) for the league and was selected in the All-Star Five.

NSW State Basketball League coach of the year was awarded to Phil and the Suns Publicity media team also received the best game promotions and best print coverage award.

The success of the last year can only get better with a 2005 team that boasts four quality 'bigs' ranging from 195cm to 206cm.

Co-captain twin-towers, Davies and Rowe, have been joined by 2004 Goulburn Bears, Joe McGann and Sean Murphy.

So what can we expect from our power plus 2005 team.

Atkinson feels at this stage of the season and after their recent pre-season hit out that Gosford, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Coffs are the teams to beat in the Northern League, while Illawarra, Goulburn and Dubbo are the southern favourites.

Gordon Kovacevic considers basketball the best of all games.

"You can play all year round with dry venues, weather usually not in contention, minimal contact sport, less injury than other sports and more importantly, it is a lifelong sport," he said.

Whether coaching or just watching, Gordon has an incredible respect and terrific knowledge for the game.

He brings with him outstanding skills and many years experience to the coaching team, professing that he has always found the Suns' comradeship most rewarding.

This is Noel Pulliene's third season successfully managing the men's State League team.

Within his role, he offers many and varied skills, from an experienced coach and player, to the trip co-ordinator and bus driver.

He even assists by filling in at training when required.

Noel has a great respect for anybody that plays sport for whatever reason and would like to see the profile of the game grow.

He, along with many others in Coffs Harbour, would like to see another avenue for up and coming junior players to be able continue to play after they become seniors and beyond the State League.

Player profiles

Captain Scott Davies, known as 'Showtime', has many years experience playing elite basketball and in 1994, as a member of the ITC team, travelled to America on tour.

Scott likes to play a small forward as being on the outside, enables him to run and control good passing options, but for his height and build, the power forward position allows him physical attitude.

Co-Captain Shannon 'Rowebot' Rowe has had an outstanding career to be capped off last season with the State Basketball League most valuable player award and selection to the All-Star Five.

With general court savvy, Shannon prefers a three or four spot so he can make things happen, just like Magic Johnson.

Ex-Goulburn Bear Joe McGann, stands mighty tall and has already earned himself a nickname of 'Smokin Joe'. The crowd were buzzing with the dunk show he put on recently at the Newcastle pre-season round.

Jo has already become the heart-throb of many adoring female fans with his quiet but strong personality, and on-court showmanship.

Iconic centre Sean Murphy has also joined the team.

Known as the heartbeat of the Goulburn Bears, he will now use his strength and experience as one of the Camera House Bigs, which will help their fortune for this season.

Sean was one of the top league scorers last season and was also selected to the All-Star Five.

Control is the name of the game for Dirk 'Diggler' Miller coming back in 2005 to play point or a shooting guard.

Dirk has many years playing experience with the Suns displaying excellent skills with the ability to organise Coffs offensive sets and put excellent pressure on the opposition.

And of course the 'guards are the smartest!

Phil Ely has his sights set high this season.

After such a massive effort last year, he would like to see the team win the 2005 State League conference and become a Marketing Director for an NBA team.

His strength in the team is playing small forward or a shooting guard and likes to be out on the perimeter, which affords him to make open jump shots.

Enthusiastic rookie Mitchell Cole, is looking forward to playing high standard basketball with the team.

Coming up through the ranks of the junior representative program, he is proud of his achievements and hopes to assist others to enjoy his favourite sport.

Mitch has aspirations to reach NBA status and reap the rewards available to him.

Craig Hanlon admires and models himself after Allen Iverson for his competitiveness, heart, focus on the court and desire to overcome the odds of being smaller than most.

Sidelined last season through injury, Craig aims to make an impact on the court in 2005.

He is happy if he plays well and will certainly be a force in winning every challenge.

Pre-season has not been favourable for Sun's shooting guard Garth Wales hitting the deck at Newcastle recently after severely dislocating his ankle in the first game of the day against the Hornsby Spiders.

Still very sore, medical advice puts Garth in plaster for yet another few weeks. The team wishes Garth a speedy recovery.

Rookie guards Nathan Ainsworth and John Hogan hope to bring great intensity and on-court flair to the Camera House team this season.

Whereas Nathan is more the extrovert leader, John brings stability and direction.

Returning after a lay season in 2004, Nathan Schmidt is also champing at the bit to extend himself once again in the game he loves.

With the influx of big talent to the team, he is relinquishing his usual inside status but relishes the opportunity to play outside and concentrate on his perimeter work.

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